When you have BPD you can be extremely sensitive to emotions, especially from others and it can feel like a rather painful world in which you live. So how are you expected to live a semi-normal life in a world that is often invalidating and prickly? The answer is you won’t always be able to. You have a complex mental health condition that will make you extra sensitive to the world around you and there will be times when you can’t cope and you do have a meltdown or will once again dip into depression. But if you have the right coping skills in place you can make sure those moments are just a blip in the road rather than the whole road you travel down…
So, how are you supposed to get control of those BPD extreme emotional highs and lows that make those with BPD so highly sensitive? The first part of getting control of them is to understand them. Having these extreme emotions will often seem like you are overreacting, or that you are being overdramatic a lot of the time when in reality it is symptoms of emotional dysregulation (or EUPD as they now like to call it, but it means the same thing). If you look up “how to cope with emotional dysregulation?” you will often be told DBT Emotional mind teaching is the best way to learn to cope with it, so what is that?
We have already covered the “reasonable mind” part of DBT which involved logical and rational thinking, but with BPD it is often the emotional mind that you need more control over. With BPD logical thinking and planning are often overridden by your emotional state because at times of stress or anxiety it can be heightened and feel almost uncontrollable. But I promise you that your emotions are controllable, you are indeed always in control of them. All these can be a little hard to understand, so I quote this parable…
One day the Buddha was speaking to a prince.
The prince asked him, “What do you and your monks do in your monastery?”
The Buddha said, “We sit and we walk and we eat.”
The prince said, “How are you different, then, from my people, for we do those things as well?”
The Buddha responded, “When we sit, we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking. When we eat, we know we are eating.”
To put this into different terms the only thing a Buddha does that anyone else doesn’t is notice what he is doing. The good news is you don’t have to be a Buddha, or a spiritual teacher to implement this type of thinking. When you are getting angry, simply notice that is what you are doing. When you start to feel depressed you need to notice that also. Why should you do this? Because by noticing those emotions you are pushing them back into the “wide mind” side of things which means you can once again understand them and get control of them.
The Emotional Mind is a place in which our thoughts run wild. It’s hard to be rational or objective in this mind because decision-making and planning are often distorted. By moving yourself out of this mindset and into the Wise Mind means you get back that control. So next time you notice yourself getting angry at something or upset just notice that emotion and move swiftly into asking yourself “Why I am getting upset?” or “is this anger justified?”. This will not always result in the actions your gut knows is best it will lead to better, healthy and helpful decisions most of the time.
This Week’s Homework: There is no homework this week as I understand that this week had some tough reading. Just try reading through it a few times to fully understand it as you might not have soaked in all the advice in one go. By learning the information on these self-help pages will soon see you gaining control of all three states of mind: Emotion Mind, Reasonable Mind and Wise Mind, but for now, let’s just stick to one at a time.